Just look at the controversy brewing on Ridgefield Rd. over the proposed demolition of a historic house and you’ll see that the push-and-pull between Wilton’s roots and its future can have a big impact on local architecture.
The Wilton Library is playing host to a very timely talk by local architect (and Wilton native) Rob Sanders, called “Wilton Rediscovered: Origins and Evolution of Architecture and Landscape,” tomorrow evening, Wednesday, Oct. 7 from 7-9 p.m.. The discussion is co-sponsored by the Wilton Historical Society, the Wilton Library and Silver Pine Real Estate, and will take place in the Library’s Brubeck Room.
Anyone who drives through the winding roads of Wilton is likely charmed by the mix of buildings, old and new, which grace the landscape and give the town its beauty and character. The evolution of Wilton, from thinly settled Colonial area to 19th century farming community to the affluent suburb of today – and how those changes are reflected in the town’s architectural styles – is the subject of Sanders’ talk.
In Wilton, structures built over the last 300 years reflect the cultural, social and economic changes which swept over the United States. Their distinct architectural characteristics have historical significance which say something about their builders and inhabitants, and the times in which they lived. Wilton has buildings of many styles, among them Colonial, Federal, Greek Revival, Victorian, bungalow, mid-century modern, ranches, capes, and contemporary.
Sanders’ talk will discuss the intersection of social history and architecture, illustrated by familiar structures, as well as those lost to progress. How did taxes affect window design in Colonial times? How were the ideals of the young country reflected in a house on Sturges Ridge Rd.? What can a mid-19th century house tell us about life in Wilton at the time it was built? What do our schools and Town Hall say about our community values? How did the industrial revolution influence our neighborhoods? The presentation will examine the forces which shaped the way Wilton’s architecture was built and evolved over the decades, and consider how and where we might go in the future.
Bruce Beebe, president of the Wilton Land Trust, will also be present to note the town’s historic lands, and the Trust’s and Town’s campaign to preserve these open spaces as an essential part of Wilton’s character.
House whisperer Rob Sanders is the principal of Rob Sanders Architects (RSA), a full service architectural firm in Wilton, with projects in Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, New York, New Jersey and California. RSA specializes in preserving, restoring, and adapting 18th, 19th, and 20th century buildings with historically appropriate renovations and additions. A graduate of Cornell University’s School of Architecture, Mr. Sanders is an active member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA) and AIA Connecticut. His design for Wilton’s Trackside Teen Center and the Invisible Fence Campus have won awards from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
A longtime resident of Wilton and a graduate of Wilton High School, Sanders currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the Wilton Library and Ogden House, and at the historic Norfield Congregational Church (Weston) as vice-moderator of Church Council. He is a past Board president of the Wilton Arts Council, was previously a trustee of the Wilton Congregational Church, and has served on the Wilton Energy Commission and Council of Public Facilities, and led the Wilton Conservation Commission for six years.
RSA also designs new houses, vacation homes, and religious and cultural buildings. The firm has extensive experience with adaptive reuse of older structures as updated business locations, preserving architectural character and history while accommodating 21st century needs.